[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the Municipality of Murrysville 4-7-2004 by Ord. No. 660-04. Amendments noted where applicable.]077a Service Fees Fines077b Fire Alarm Reg Form077c Property Owners Important Notice
The purpose of this chapter is to encourage owners and fire alarm businesses to properly use and maintain the operational effectiveness of fire alarm systems in order to improve the reliability of fire alarm systems and reduce or eliminate false fire alarms and nuisance fire alarms.
This chapter governs fire alarm systems intended to summon Fire Department personnel and requires registration and assessment of fees/fines for excessive false fire alarms and nuisance fire alarms; provides procedures for repeat offenders; provides for the severability of the parts hereof if declared invalid; and provides an effective date.
As used in this chapter, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:
- ADOPTED CODE(S)
- Code adopted by the jurisdiction and, in the absence of adopted code, the National Fire Protection Association's National Fire Alarm Code 72 (NFPA 72).
- ALARM-INITIATING DEVICE
- A device that is designed to respond either manually or automatically to smoke, fire, or activation of a fire-suppression system.
- COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENT
- Those properties used primarily for commercial or industrial purposes and multiple-dwelling residential buildings with central waste collection systems provided by the owner or landlord.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL
- The Code Enforcement Official or his designated representative.
- FALSE FIRE ALARM
- The activation of any fire alarm system which results in a response by the Fire Department and which is caused by the negligence or intentional misuse of the fire alarm system by the owner, its employees, agents; or any other activation of a fire alarm system that is not caused by heat or smoke generated from a burning or smoldering source or object.
- FEE or FINE
- The assessment of a monetary charge payable to the Municipality, authorized pursuant to this chapter, to defray the expenses of responding to a false fire alarm or nuisance fire alarm.
- FIRE ALARM ACTIVATION REPORT
- A document issued by the Code Enforcement Official indicating that the activation was deemed to be the result of a fire alarm activation due to fire, a nuisance fire alarm, or a false fire alarm.
- FIRE ALARM BUSINESS
- Any individual, partnership, corporation or other entity that is appropriately licensed in the state/jurisdiction and installs, causes to be installed, permits to be installed, alters, maintains, repairs, replaces or services (including runner services) any fire alarm system.
- FIRE ALARM SYSTEM
- A system or portion of a combination system consisting of components and circuits arranged to monitor and/or exterior annunciate the status of a fire alarm or supervisory signal-initiating devices and to initiate the appropriate response to those signals.
- FIRE WATCH
- A Code Enforcement Official-approved person or persons assigned to a commercial establishment for the purpose of protecting the occupants from fire or similar emergencies. A fire watch may involve at least some special action beyond normal staffing, such as assigning an additional security guard(s) to walk the premises, who has been specially trained in fire prevention and in the use of fire extinguishers, in notifying the Fire Department, in sounding the fire alarm system located on the premises, and in understanding the particular firesafety situation.
- KEY ACCESS SYSTEM
- An exterior wall-mounted key safe installed on all commercial establishments with fire alarm systems for emergency access of fire-fighting personnel.
- MONITORED SYSTEM
- The process by which a fire alarm business receives signals from a fire alarm system and notifies emergency forces and contains a dispatch/central monitoring station.
- NUISANCE FIRE ALARM
- The activation of any fire alarm system which results in a response by the Fire Department, caused by mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation, lack of proper maintenance or any other response for which the Fire Department personnel are unable to determine the apparent cause of the alarm activation.
- Any person who owns the premises in which a fire alarm system is installed, the person or persons who lease, operate, occupy or manage the premises, or to whom the fire alarm system is registered.
- Any building, structure or combination of buildings and structures which serve as dwelling units. such as single-family, multifamily, or any other area within a building, structure or combination thereof which is used for any purpose, wherein a fire alarm system is installed.
- QUALIFIED FIRE ALARM TECHNICIAN
- Any person who inspects, installs, repairs or performs maintenance on fire alarm systems. This person shall be: a) factory trained and certified; b) National Institute of Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) fire alarm Level II certified; or c) licensed or certified by state or local authority.
- RECORD OF COMPLETION
- The completion of a form equivalent to the record of completion form included in the National Fire Protection Association's National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72).
- The notification by an owner to the Code Enforcement Official that a fire alarm system has been installed and is in use. A local contact must be available to whom the fire alarm system is registered.
- REPORT OF SERVICE/REPAIR
- Appropriate documentation in a format acceptable to the Code Enforcement Official that verifies proper repairs or maintenance have been performed by both the fire alarm business and the owner.
- RESIDENTIAL UNIT
- A group of rooms within a residence for occupancy by one or more persons separate and independent from other room groups within the same residence, whether or not one or more facilities, such as heating, toilet, laundry and the like, are shared by the occupants of two or more room groups. Any improvements to real estate increasing the number of rooms of any existing single-family residence, but which is to continue in use as a single-family residence, shall not be deemed a separate taxable residential unit.
- RUNNER SERVICE
- The service provided by a runner at the protected premises, including resetting and silencing of all equipment transmitting fire alarm or supervisory signals to an off-premises location.
- Hand delivery of written notification by a representative of the jurisdiction to the owner or authorized representative who responded to the premises. In the event the owner or authorized representative fails to respond to the premises within one hour, serve shall mean placing the form or other matter in the United States Mail; postage prepaid, addressed to the owner or authorized representative.
A one-time registration shall be required for fire alarm systems and whenever a record of completion is prepared, in accordance with adopted codes.
The owner shall be required to re-register whenever there is a change in the fire alarm business responsible for maintaining, servicing, and/or monitoring the fire alarm system.
Registrations shall not be transferable from one premises to another or from one owner to another.
Every fire alarm business shall notify the Code Enforcement Official of the existence of a fire alarm system prior to the fire alarm system being put into operation. It shall be the responsibility of the installing fire alarm business to provide the owner with notice of the existence of this chapter, a registration form and a copy of the fire alarm system operation instructions in accordance with adopted codes, and the manufacturer's instructions.
The registration form shall include the following information:
The name(s), address of the premises, mailing address (if different from the address of the premises), business and home telephone number of the owner, lessee, operator, manager or person in possession of the premises wherein the fire alarm system is installed.
The name, address and telephone number of a minimum of two persons who can be notified by the fire company in whose district the activation is located (the Code Enforcement Official should be notified the next business day) in the event of the activation of the fire alarm system, who shall be capable of responding to the premises within one hour, and who are authorized to enter the premises to ascertain the status thereof. Please note: In the case of a multiple event at the same location within an eight-hour period, it is the discretion of the Fire Chief or his designee to call out the Code Enforcement Official.
The name, address and telephone number of the fire alarm business which has contracted to service the fire alarm system and proof of proper state licensing/registration with the Code Enforcement Official, if required. Proof of proper state licensing may be a valid state licensing number.
A key access system, a wall-mounted key safe, shall be installed on all commercial establishments with fire alarm systems for emergency access of fire-fighting personnel.
The date the 4registration is signed or the fire alarm system is placed in operation for any reason; and
Any other documentation that is required by adopted codes.
The owner shall complete and deliver the fire alarm system registration in the required format to the Code Enforcement Official before the fire alarm system is activated or placed into service. The fire alarm business, when authorized by the owner, may assist the owner in accomplishing this submission of the fire alarm registration to the Code Enforcement Official.
Should the fire alarm registration form need to be modified/revised, this chapter shall not be amended, but rather a current copy of the fire alarm registration form shall be placed with this chapter at all times.
All newly installed or recertified commercial fire alarm systems shall be approved by the Code Enforcement Official and the fire company in whose fire district the system is installed. The certification shall indicate that the fire alarm system is in compliance with adopted codes. The certification shall be signed by a qualified fire alarm technician.
The owner shall ensure that all fire alarm systems are inspected and tested per NFPA 72. Residential units are required to have fire alarm systems inspected and tested via a private venue.
The owner shall ensure that all fire alarm systems are periodically maintained per manufacturer specifications and adopted codes. Written records of such maintenance shall be maintained on site in accordance with the adopted codes.
The owner shall be responsible for the activation of a fire alarm system.
A response to the activation of a fire alarm system shall result when any officer or member of the fire company in whose district the activation is located is dispatched to the premises where the fire alarm system has been activated. Please note: The Code Enforcement Official should be notified the next business day.
At the time of response, the fire company in whose district the activation is located (the Code Enforcement Official should be notified the next business day) shall notify any person identified in the registration required pursuant to § 77-3E(1) through (3) of the activation of the fire alarm system and shall require such person to respond to the premises.
In the event the fire alarm system is a monitored system, it is the responsibility of the company monitoring the fire alarm system to notify any person identified in the registration at the request of the Fire Chief or his designee.
In the event the household fire alarm system is a monitored system, it is the responsibility of the fire alarm business to offer the owner the option to verify the fire alarm signal before dispatch, as allowed by adopted code.
In the event the household fire alarm system is a monitored system, it is the responsibility of the alarm business to ensure that its dispatch/central monitoring station forwards cancellation of a fire alarm signal to the Fire Department.
The officer or member of the Fire Department who responded to said premises shall serve the owner or authorized representative with a fire alarm activation report. The Fire Department will forward a copy of the report to the Code Enforcement Official.
In the event the activation of a fire alarm system is deemed by the Code Enforcement Official to be a nuisance fire alarm, the owner shall be served with a fire alarm activation report by an officer or member of the Fire Department or Code Enforcement Official, indicating that the activation was deemed to be the result of a nuisance fire alarm. If a fire alarm activation report is served by a member of the Fire Department, the Fire Department must notify the Code Enforcement Official accordingly.
This shall require the owner to return a completed report of service/repair within 15 days of receipt of the fire alarm activation report to verify, to the reasonable satisfaction of the Code Enforcement Official and the fire departments, that:
Failure to return a report of service/repair within said fifteen-day period which is reasonably satisfactory to the Code Enforcement Official shall result in assessment against the owner of a fee of (See Appendix A, Service Fees/Fines) for the nuisance fire alarm.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to any newly installed fire alarm system for a period of 45 days from the date of installation, but shall apply from and after the expiration of the initial forty-five-day period following installation.
Should any fee assessed pursuant to this chapter remain unpaid in excess of 90 days from the date the fee is billed, a late fee (see Appendix A, Service Fees/Fines) shall be assessed and shall be payable by the owner of the premises in addition to the original fee.
False fire alarm.
No fee shall be assessed for the first three false fire alarms at the same premises responded to by the Fire Department during each calendar year. Thereafter, the owner shall pay the following fees/fines for false fire alarms responded to by the Fire Department at the same premises during each calendar year, except when the fire alarm business is responsible for the false fire alarm per § 77-8C(2).
The fire alarm business shall be assessed a fee (see Appendix A, Service Fees/Fines) if a Code Enforcement Official determines that a false fire alarm was directly caused by an on-site employee or representative of the fire alarm business. In this event, no false fire alarm shall be counted against the owner.
False fire alarms activated by any components connected to the fire alarm system shall be included in computing the total number of false fire alarms for purposes of this subsection.
The activation of a fire alarm system will not be considered a false fire alarm if the alarm is activated and it is shown to the Municipality that is it due to malicious causes beyond the control of the owner.
Nuisance fire alarms.
The following fees/fines shall be assessed when a report of service/repair has been returned to the Code Enforcement Official, but the nuisance fire alarms continue:
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included at the end of this chapter.
In the event the premises are equipped with a fire alarm system with over 100 alarm-initiating devices, the Enforcement Official may waive one nuisance fire alarm per calendar year.
The Code Enforcement Official has the authority to order a fire watch in accordance with adopted codes, due to repetitive nuisance fire alarms and/or false fire alarms, until corrective action is taken, or to revoke the occupancy certificate for the premises by written notice to the owner of the premises, for any of the following reasons:
Failure to meet all requirements or pay the fees/fines provided for in this chapter within 15 days after the notice is mailed to the owner;
Failure of the owner to provide a written report of service/repair required by this chapter;
A fourth false fire alarm or nuisance fire alarm at a premises for which a fee is charged pursuant to this chapter as a result of the failure of the owner to take corrective action to eliminate the cause of the false fire alarm or nuisance fire alarm. A rolling three-strikes within 12 months, e.g., May 2004 to May 2005, will apply leading to the fourth false fire alarm or nuisance fire alarm where a penalty will be assessed; or
The written notice to disconnect or deactivate shall be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner and shall specify the date on which the owner shall be required to disconnect or deactivate the fire alarm system. This date shall be at least 15 days after the notice is mailed to the owner. The owner may appeal the order of the Code Enforcement Official pursuant to § 77-10.
Each building affected because the signal from the fire alarm system has been disconnected or deactivated shall be required to establish a fire watch until the fire alarm system has been returned to service. Duties of the fire watch may include notifying the Fire Department and building occupants of an emergency, preventing a fire from occurring, or extinguishing small fires.
The owner is responsible for paying all costs associated with establishing a fire watch.
The Code Enforcement Official has the authority to temporarily suspend the occupancy certificate of the premises until all outstanding repairs are made on the fire alarm system or if the fire watch is not maintained to the satisfaction of the Code Enforcement Official.
The Code Enforcement Official shall have the authority to direct the owner of the premises to silence an activated fire alarm system, have corrective action taken and thereafter reset it.
Anyone convicted of falsifying reports as required under this chapter is subject to maximum penalty as established by state or local law.
Per Pennsylvania Crime Code Title 18:
Any person, firm, or corporation who or which shall violate or fail, neglect or refuse to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding before a District Justice having jurisdiction of the matter, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 and cost of prosecution and, in default of payment of such fine and costs, to undergo imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 30 days, provided that each day's violation shall constitute a separate offense and neither notice to the offender of a single day's violation nor repeated notice of a continuing violation shall be necessary in order to constitute an offense.
The fire departments will be notified of the above-mentioned via a monthly report submitted by the Code Enforcement Official.
An owner or fire alarm business may appeal the assessment of fees/fines to the Board of Appeals, which will consist of the Chief Administrator and the two fire chiefs where the activation did not occur. An appeal fee (see Appendix A) will accompany the appeal. Appeal fees/fines will be returned to the owner or fire alarm business if the appeal is upheld. The filing of an appeal with the Board of Appeals stays the assessment of the fee until the Board of Appeals makes a final decision. The owner or fire alarm business shall file a written appeal to the Board of Appeals by setting forth the reasons for the appeal within 15 days after notice is mailed.
An owner to whom a notice to disconnect or deactivate a fire alarm system was mailed, pursuant to § 77-9B, shall be entitled to appeal the order to the Board of Appeals. An appeal must be in writing, stating the reasons why the order to disconnect or deactivate should be withdrawn. The appeal shall be made within 15 days after notice to disconnect is mailed to the owner. The Board of Appeals shall review the facts and circumstances and shall determine whether the owner has shown good cause why the order should be withdrawn. If the Board of Appeals affirms the order to disconnect or deactivate a fire alarm system, the owner shall have 15 days after the written decision is mailed to the owner to comply with the order. The appeal of an order to disconnect or deactivate shall suspend the effective date of the order until the appeal has been acted upon by the Board of Appeals.
In the event the appeal is not upheld, the owner or fire alarm business shall also be responsible for any fee assessed to reimburse the Board of Appeals for any legal fees/fines or costs incurred by the Board of Appeals in enforcement of this chapter.
An owner or fire alarm business may appeal the Board of Appeals' decision to the District Justice. In the event the appeal is not upheld, the owner or fire alarm business shall also be responsible for any fee/fine assessed to reimburse the District Justice for any legal fees/fines or costs incurred by the Board of Appeals in enforcement of this chapter.
A fire alarm system may be reactivated upon a finding by the Code Enforcement Official that the owner of the premises has taken corrective action to remedy the cause of the false fire alarms or nuisance fire alarms at the premises.
In making a request for such a reactivation, the owner shall have the burden of showing what corrective action has been taken.
The Code Enforcement Official shall have the right to inspect the fire alarm system and test it prior to approving a new order to reconnect or reactivate the fire alarm system.
The Code Enforcement Official shall not approve a new order to reconnect or reactivate if the owner has failed to pay any fee pursuant to this chapter.
Any building security issues supplied to the Code Enforcement Official shall be held in confidence by all employees or representatives of the Code Enforcement Official and by any third-party administrator or employees of a third-party administrator with access to such information.
Registration of a fire alarm system is not intended to, nor will it, create a contract, duty or obligation, either expressed or implied, of response. Any and all liability and consequential damage resulting from the failure to respond to a notification is hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity as provided by law is retained. When registering a fire alarm system, the owner acknowledges that Fire Department response may be based on factors such as availability of Fire Department units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, and staffing levels. The Municipality, its officers, employees and agents shall not assume any duty or responsibility for the installation, maintenance, operation, repair or effectiveness of any privately owned fire alarm system; those duties or responsibilities being solely those of the owner of the premises.